Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why The Government Cannot Modify Mortgages If It Purchases $700BN of MBS

(Credit Slips) I've written a short explanation of the why even if the Treasury buys $700BN of MBS it will be unable to modify the underlying mortgages. The explanation, which is more detailed than any of my previous postings on the subject, is available here.

At core it is a Trust Indenture Act problem, where the bonds cannot be modified absent a specified majority vote and consent of bondholders whose payment rights are affected. And here is no possibility of doing an exchange offer to get around it; there is simply no mechanism for an MBS trust to do an exchange offer. (For the classic discussion of Trust Indenture problems, see Mark Roe's article, The Voting Prohibition in Bond Workouts.) The solution of Trust Indenture Act problems with corporate bonds is...you guessed it, bankruptcy modification!

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